SUEZ: de Lesseps' Canal by John Pudney

SUEZ: de Lesseps' Canal

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The Suez Canal's momentarily still waters notwithstanding, two new books celebrate its centennial. This is a far more buoyant account than Lord Kinross' Between Two Seas (1968, p. 1414.) De Lesseps' baroque personality (seen here as an amalgamation of P. T. Barnum and Henry Ford) dominates the book, but Pudney's careful explanation of De Lesseps' submergence in international political, financial, and occasionally ideological squabbles provides a broad historical context. Skittering over the earliest proponents, Pudney tells of the money, men and methods used in actual construction; of the contributions of such canalistes as the Khedive, the British prime minister and Napoleon III; and again briefly, of later insolvency, British occupation (with French company's control), and, finally, nationalization. Throughout the writing is sprightly, slowed only by overlong quotations from original sources (without page references). Engravings reproduced from the souvenir of the canal's opening lend an authentic as well as a graceful note.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1969
Publisher: Praeger